Clear Creek ISD is preparing to send off its class of 2021 graduates and look to the next academic year with a blank slate approach, Superintendent Eric Williams said at a May 24 board of trustees meeting.
Graduation celebrations begin May 26 with the Clear Falls High School ceremony and end May 30 with Clear Creek High School’s ceremony. All six will take place at the CCISD Challenger Columbia Stadium.
Graduates will be seated 6 feet apart outdoors, and masks will not be required during processionals, recessionals or ceremonies, Williams said at the meeting. Stadium seating is open with each graduate issued 10 tickets for guests and able to request more, he said. Ceremonies will also be streamed live at www.ccisd.net.
Despite the increase in social activities districtwide with end-of-year athletic competitions and proms as well as graduations, the district’s COVID-19 case counts are low and trending downward, Williams said. As of May 26, there are 12 active cases among the more than 35,000 students and staff on campuses. The last day of classes is May 27.
Moving forward, the district will focus on providing vaccinations to students and community members age 12 and up and revising its COVID-19-related protocols for 2021-22.
With vaccinations widely available for students age 12 and up, Williams said three high school campuses served as vaccination sites earlier in the month. More than 200 students were vaccinated through that event, and the district will continue doing its part in providing vaccines for its 12- to 16-year-old students, Williams said.
Per Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-36, school districts in Texas are prohibited from requiring or mandating mask wearing after June 4. The Safely Reopen CCISD committee was working toward a mask-optional edict for the upcoming school year, Williams said at the board meeting, so the governor’s recommendation aligns with district plans.
“We think the community is ready,” he said of the move to optional masking, adding that nearly 70% of respondents to a spring public survey were in favor of masks being optional.
The committee will now be tasked with developing instructional, operational and health procedures for staff and students headed into the 2021-22 school year, just as it was last year, Williams said. After CCISD received more than 350 responses to a call for committee volunteers, 15 staff members and 15 parents were selected via random lottery, he said. Five students will also be named to the committee by their respective high school principals.
This committee will provide input to Williams and other staffers as 2021-22 protocols are developed, and the district is hoping to move some activities and operations closer to their pre-pandemic state, Williams said. This will ideally include the return of visitors and volunteers on campuses and small-group work during the school day, he added.
“We envision next year being a lot more like a pre-pandemic school year in terms of working and learning environments in contrast to this year,” Williams said.
The committee’s first meeting will take place during the last week of May. Williams described district leaders’ method for the development of protocols as a blank-slate approach, one involving the creation of revised standards from scratch rather than using current protocols as a base.
“We’re starting with a blank slate and then considering what practices from this year we want to add,” he said.
Employee surveys have shown some popular COVID-19-inspired practices include additional custodial staff and the presence of wipes and sanitizer in classrooms, Williams said. However, of the faculty Williams has spoken to about public health standards and considerations, he said “not a single employee said face masks.”